Only a presidential veto--or a last-minute change of heart--could have stopped the Republican-led Congress from abolishing its only in-house source of science-policy analysis, the 23-year-old Office of Technology Assessment. But a threatened veto is now unlikely to come, and Congress has voted and moved on to other matters.
OTA is history.
On July 27, House and Senate conferees sealed the agency's fate in H.R. 104-212, the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill for fiscal 1996. It is a compromise measure that sets funding limits for Congress and its agencies, including the Library of Congress and the Congressional Budget Office. It is also the first such bill in nearly a quarter of a century to omit funding for OTA.
OTA director Roger Herdman calls the vote "unfortunate" for the agency, Congress, and the United States.
"In 1972," he observes, "when OTA was...